Posts tagged egypt
CAIRO (AP) — It was a raucous beginning Monday for Egypt’s first democratically elected parliament in 60 years.
Islamist lawmakers added religious references to the oath of office. Liberal lawmakers improvised too, adding a pledge to protect the “revolution” that ousted Hosni Mubarak. Some wore scarves with words protesting military trials for civilians. Shouting matches erupted. Hundreds massed outside, calling on the ruling generals to step down.
And millions of Egyptians watched it all unfold live on TV.
The opening session of parliament offered a stark contrast to past decades, when Egyptians knew that lawmakers came to office through deeply fraudulent elections engineered by the authorities, including the police, to ensure that the ruling party won comfortably. Apathetic and demoralized, they paid little or no heed to what lawmakers did or said.
All that came to an end when the new legislature was elected in balloting staggered over six weeks beginning Nov. 28. Islamists led by the Muslim Brotherhood, the largest and most disciplined political group in the nation of 85 million people, won about 70 percent of the parliament’s 508 seats.
The Brotherhood had been banned for most of its 84-year history, legalized only after the uprising that began a year ago Wednesday and toppled Mubarak, Egypt’s authoritarian ruler for nearly three decades.
The chamber’s top priority will be to elect a 100-member panel to draft a new constitution, which will have to be put to a vote in a referendum. The next major step in the transition will be a presidential election, scheduled to be held before the end of June, when the generals who took over from Mubarak are due to step down.
The lawmakers took office at a time when Egypt appears divided and near despairing. Since Mubarak stepped down, the economy has been battered. Tenuous security has hit tourism hard and foreign currency reserves have rapidly dwindled.
Thousands of people of all political views demonstrated on side streets near parliament to voice a wide variety of demands and speak of expectations from the new lawmakers. Some repeated calls for the ruling generals to step down, while others questioned the legitimacy of the chamber or voiced their opposition to the Islamists’ policies.
“We want to remind all those inside the parliament that they are there as the fruit of freedom. Therefore, we need more freedom,” said poet and activist Abdel-Rahman Youssef, who said his advocacy group was concerned about calls by Islamists to place restrictions on the arts.
Voices calling for the military to immediately return to the barracks have intensified, with political activists accusing the generals of bungling the transition, torturing detainees and hauling 12,000 civilian before military tribunals for trial.
Many are frustrated by the waves of street protests, strikes and sit-ins preventing life from returning to normal. The generals have taken advantage of the disarray, stepping up a campaign portraying the revolutionaries as irresponsible agents of foreign powers while projecting themselves as Egypt’s protectors and true patriots.
The divisions were on display both inside and outside parliament Monday.
Liberal and independent lawmakers wore yellow scarves saying, “No to military trials for civilians.” Some of them added to the text of the oath of office, pledging to “continue the revolution” or “to be loyal to the blood of its martyrs.”
That led to lawmakers from the ultraconservative Salafist movement to do some improvising of their own. The oath ends with a pledge to respect the constitution and the law, but several of them added “God’s law” or said “as long as there are no contradictions with God’s law.”
The addition of religious references pointed to the Salafis’ intention to make good on election promises to impose a strict interpretation of Islam on the nation.
The Islamist character of the chamber was also shown in the attire of lawmakers, many of whom sported long beards, clerical turbans or flowing robes. Most of the women wore Islamic scarves.
Brotherhood lawmaker Saad el-Katatni, a botany lecturer from the central province of Minya south of Cairo, was elected as speaker and sought to woo the revolutionaries.
“Our revolution continues and we will not rest until all the goals of the revolution are met and we avenge our martyrs,” he said in an address that drew a standing ovation. “We will never betray the blood of our martyrs.”
The Brotherhood won just under half of all seats, followed by the Salafis who won about a quarter. The liberal and left-leaning groups that organized the uprising got less than 10 percent of the seats. Many of them were not as well prepared for the election as the Islamists, particularly the Brotherhood.
Adel Musbah, a 30-year-old supporter of the ultraconservative Al-Nour party, said outside parliament that the protests organized by youth groups to demand that the military step down were pointless.
“Democracy brought the people inside now. Those inside were elected by the people,” he said. “Why are these coming to object? The people chose and it wasn’t them. They (protesters) are not the people. … The only legitimacy is inside parliament.”
Adding to the tension were Brotherhood volunteers who escorted their lawmakers into the parliament to protect them from protesters.
“I want to make sure that my representatives are safe. I want to celebrate and make sure that no one ruins this atmosphere. There are many who want to ruin it,” said Fathy el-Sayed, a 35-year-old Brotherhood supporter.
Others waited with flowers to give to lawmakers they supported. They chanted religious songs to the beat of drums.
The families of protesters killed or wounded in the 18-day uprising and subsequent street protests were there too, calling for those responsible to be brought swiftly to justice.
“This parliament has no legitimacy. These elections were held under the military council’s eyes and anything under them has no legitimacy,” said Mary Daniel, sister of a protester killed at an October rally violently broken up by army troops.
Some of the protesters wore masks made of photographs of those killed or wounded by security forces in the past year.
“Down, down with military rule!” they chanted. “No military and no Brotherhood!” source – Yahoo News
CAIRO (AP) – Final results on Saturday showed that Islamist parties won nearly three-quarters of the seats in parliament in Egypt’s first elections since the ouster of authoritarian president Hosni Mubarak, according to election officials and political groups.
The Islamist domination of Egypt’s parliament has worried liberals and even some conservatives about the religious tone of the new legislature, which will be tasked with forming a committee to write a new constitution. It remains unclear whether the constitution will be written while the generals who took power after Mubarak’s fall are still in charge, or rather after presidential elections this summer.
In the vote for the lower house of parliament, a coalition led by the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood won 47 percent, or 235 seats in the 498-seat parliament. The ultraconservative Al-Nour Party was second with 25 percent, or 125 seats.
The Salafi Al-Nour, which was initially the biggest surprise of the vote, wants to impose strict Islamic law in Egypt, while the more moderate Brotherhood, the country’s best-known and organized party, has said publicly that it does not seek to force its views about an appropriate Islamic lifestyle on Egyptians.
The two parties are unlikely to join forces because of ideological differences, but both have a long history of charity work in Egypt’s vast poverty-stricken neighborhoods and villages, giving them a degree of legitimacy and popularity across the country in areas where newer liberal parties have yet to get a foothold.
Muslim Brotherhood lawmaker Mohammed el-Beltagi said the new parliament represents “the wish of the Egyptian people.”
Egypt’s elections commission acknowledged that there were voting irregularities, but the vote has been hailed as the country’s freest and fairest in living memory.
The liberals who spearheaded the revolt that toppled Mubarak struggled to organize and connect with a broader public in the vote, and did not fair as well as the Islamists.
The Egyptian bloc, which is headed by a party founded by Christian telecom tycoon Naguib Sawiris, said it won 9 percent of the seats in parliament. Egypt’s oldest secular party, the Wafd, also won around 9 percent. source- My Way News
Egypt has fallen, and the enemies of freedom have won
CAIRO — Liberals and Islamists in Egypt announced a temporary agreement Monday on a power-sharing plan that would install a Muslim Brotherhood leader as speaker of the country’s newly elected parliament.
The agreement among six political parties all but guarantees that the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party will lead Egypt’s first elected parliament since the ouster of Hosni Mubarak in February, with the Islamist party expected to control as many as half the seats.
Under the power-sharing agreement, the ultraconservative Salafist Nour party and the liberal al-Wafd party would also claim top positions, with their representatives serving as deputy speakers, the parties announced during a news conference Monday at the Freedom and Justice Party’s headquarters.
With a week left until the lower house of the parliament meets, the Freedom and Justice Party said its nominee for speaker would be Mohamed Saad Katatny, the party’s secretary general.
During the announcement, the party heads said the agreement would be a temporary alliance to put their voting weight behind agreed-upon candidates for the parliament’s leadership positions.
“This is a one-day agreement for the day the parliament opens,” Mohamed Abou el-Ghar, the head of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party said in an interview. “We have to cooperate so the main posts in the parliament are distributed fairly to all parties, including the people who won the elections.”
Abou el-Ghar said it was possible that his own party could still be allotted one of the deputy positions if the Wafd party chose not to go along with the accord. The Social Democratic Party is part of an alliance of liberals and leftists that is expected to take the fourth most seats after the Freedom and Justice Party, the Nour party and al-Wafd.
This week the agreed parties will begin discussions to divvy up the chairmanships of political committees in the lower house of the parliament, known as the People’s Assembly. On Monday, the body will convene for the first time.
Final results of the elections are expected this week, but party projections and early returns show that Islamists are expected to take about two-thirds of the seats, most of which will go to the political wing of the historic Muslim Brotherhood organization.
The powers of the People’s Assembly are unclear and will be laid out in a still-unwritten constitution. The People’s Assembly is supposed to choose members of a constituent assembly that will write the country’s constitution.
But Egypt’s military rulers have made clear that they would like to oversee the constitution-writing process and possibly influence the selection of the constituent assembly. Political party leaders said the ruling generals would have no influence over the selection of parliament leaders. The head of the Freedom and Justice Party, Mohammed Morsi, said during the news conference that the short-term agreement was to guarantee a “parliament that expresses national unity.” source – Washington Post
Former US president Jimmy Carter gave the thumbs up on Tuesday to Egypt’s parliamentary elections, saying the people’s will was “expressed accurately.”
“We have been very pleased,” Carter told reporters during a tour of a polling station at the Rod al-Farag girls’ secondary school in a working class district of the Egyptian capital
He said the election — a three-staged process launched in November to choose the first parliament since mass protests forced former president Hosni Mubarak to quit — had been peaceful despite “some problems.”
Carter arrived in Egypt on Monday to join a Carter Center delegation of 40 witnesses representing 21 countries deployed in Egypt since mid-November, the statement added. Egypt’s two main Islamist parties have scored a crushing victory in the seats declared so far, reflecting a regional trend since Arab Spring uprisings overthrew authoritarian secular regimes.
Asked about Islamists coming to power, Carter said: “I have no problem with that. The US government has no problem with that either.”
The powerful Muslim Brotherhood, the country’s best organised political movement, has claimed the lead through its political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP).
It has been closely followed by Al-Nur, which represents the ultra-conservative Salafi brand of Islam, raising fears among increasingly marginalised liberals about the prospects for civil liberties and religious freedom.
Under the complex electoral system, voters have been asked to cast three ballots — two for individual candidates and one for a party list — for the 498 elected seats in the lower house.
On Tuesday, Egyptians were voting in second-round run-offs for the third and final phase of the election. The run-off, which takes place over two days in the last nine of the country’s 27 provinces to vote, is for individual candidates.
The election is to be re-run in several constituencies between January 14 and January 19, after complaints over the conduct of the first-round voting were upheld. The electoral commission has yet to announce when it will publish the final results. source – Breitbart
Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood will not recognize Israel “under any circumstance,” the party’s deputy leader Dr. Rashad Bayoumi told Arabic daily al-Hayat in an interview published on Sunday.
In recent Egyptian elections the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) won 36.3 percent of the list vote, while the ultra-conservative Salafi al-Nour Party took 28.8%. When asked whether it is a requirement for the government in Egypt to recognize Israel, Bayoumi responded by saying: “This is not an option, whatever the circumstances, we do not recognize Israel at all. It’s an occupying criminal enemy.”
The deputy leader stressed during the interview that no Muslim Brotherhood members would ever meet with Israelis for negotiations.“I will not allow myself to sit down with criminals.” Bayoumi went on to say that the Muslim Brotherhood would take legal procedures towards canceling the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel that was signed in 1979.
“The Brotherhood respects international conventions, but we will take legal action against the peace treaty with the Zionist entity,” he told the paper.
At the beginning of December, Egypt’s two leading Islamist parties won about two-thirds of votes for party lists in the second round of polling for a parliament that will help draft a new constitution after decades of autocratic rule.
The vote, staged over six weeks, is the first free election Egypt has held after the 30-year rule of president Hosni Mubarak, who routinely rigged polls before he was overthrown by a popular uprising in February.
The West long looked to Mubarak and other strongmen in the region to help combat Islamist militants, and has watched warily as Islamist parties have topped votes in Tunisia, Morocco and now Egypt. The Egyptian Parliament’s prime job will be appointing a 100-man assembly to write a new constitution which will define the president’s powers and parliament’s clout in the new Egypt.
source – JPost
As Islamists emerge from elections as the country’s leading political force – to the alarm of democracy campaigners and regional autocrats alike – western governments will have to adapt to a power shift they have long sought to prevent.
Back in January, as popular protests against President Hosni Mubarak gathered pace, the Muslim Brotherhood was easy to spot, its young women in headscarves and youths taking charge of security checkpoints in Tahrir Square. But, as just one of the many groups organising daily life in the encampment that formed the nerve centre of the uprising, the 80-year-old Islamist movement was not especially prominent.
Yet within nine months, the Brotherhood had reclaimed its status as Egypt’s most powerful political force following decades of suppression. In the country’s first free parliamentary elections, its newly created Freedom and Justice party won more than 35 per cent of the vote in the first round, and slightly more in December’s second round.
Even more worrying for those hoping the Arab world’s largest nation would adopt a liberal, pro-western face, fellow Islamists from the puritanical Salafi movement emerged with more than 25 per cent, a score likely to be confirmed in the third and final round of voting in January.
Today, however, 20 years after Algeria’s military staged a coup to prevent a parliamentary landslide by the Islamic Salvation Front, and five years after Hamas rode to victory in the Palestinian territory only to face a western boycott, Islamists are demonstrating their power of survival.
“This is the real Egyptian revolution,” says Jon Alterman of the US-based Center for Strategic and International Studies and one of the international observers at the Egyptian elections. “In February, the military removed Hosni Mubarak. This is the revolution that reorients power in Egypt.”
In both a domestic and a broader Arab context, the political events of the past few weeks in Egypt represent a political earthquake, one that Arab regimes and western powers alike had long sought to prevent.
For decades, the region’s rulers defended their authoritarianism to western partners by raising the spectre of an Islamist takeover as the only alternative. Any prospect of the US or other western allies holding a dialogue with Islamists was seen as an affront.
“The foreseeable future is Islamist – this much we know. It’s just a reality that people have to come to terms with,” says Shadi Hamid of the Brookings Doha Center. “People want to see Islam play a larger role in political life and liberals are going to have to learn to speak the language of religion and stop being the anti-Islamist choice.” source – FT
Female protesters brutally beaten with metal poles as vicious soldiers drag girls through streets by their hair in day of shame
Islam hates women. They wrap them in black cloth from head to toe, they abuse them, they treat them like cattle. They are men, but they are cowards. Pathetic weak, little men, who can only attack in packs, and attack those much weaker than themselves. All in the name of the moon god Allah, a religion of devils.
“After being viciously beaten by a 10-strong mob of Egyptian male soldiers, this woman lies helplessly on the ground as her shirt is ripped from her body and a man kicks her with full force in her exposed chest.
Moments earlier she had been struck countless times in the head and body with metal batons, not content with the brutal beating delivered by his fellow soldier, one man stamped on her head repeatedly. She feebly tried to shield her head from the relentless blows with her hands.
But she was knocked unconscious in the shameful attack and left lying motionless as the military men mindlessly continued to beat her limp and half-naked body. Before she was set upon by the guards, three men appeared to carry her as they tried to flee the approaching military.
But they were too slow and the soldiers caught up with them, capturing the women and knocking one of the men to the ground.
The two other men were forced to abandoned their fellow protestors and continued running, looking helplessly back at the two they left behind being relentlessly attacked as they lay on the ground.
This is just one of the hundreds of shameful injustices seen in Cairo’s Tahrir Square where Egypt’s military took a dramatically heavy hand on Saturday to crush protests against its rule.
Aya Emad told the AP that troops dragged her by her headscarf and hair into the Cabinet headquarters. The 24-year-old said soldiers kicked her on the ground, an officer shocked her with an electrical prod and another slapped her on the face, leaving her nose broken and her arm in a sling.
Mona Seif, an activist who was briefly detained Friday, said she saw an officer repeatedly slapping a detained old woman in the face.
‘It was a humiliating scene,’ Seif told the private TV network Al-Nahar. ‘I have never seen this in my life.’ source – Daily Mail UK